Re: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3

From: Ingo Molnar
Date: Thu Jun 14 2007 - 09:25:28 EST

* Bernd Paysan <bernd.paysan@xxxxxx> wrote:

> On Thursday 14 June 2007 12:38, Ingo Molnar wrote:
> > that's fine, but the fundamental question is: where is the moral
> > boundary of the power that the copyright license gives? The FSF seems to
> > believe "nowhere, anything that copyright law allows us to achieve our
> > goals is a fair game" - and the GPLv3 shows that belief. I dont
> > subscribe to that view. I think the proper limit is the boundary where
> > the limit of the software is - because that's the only sane and globally
> > workable way to stop the power-hungry. I.e. the information we produce
> > is covered by the rules of the GPL. It might be used in ways
> > inconvenient to us, it might be put on hardware we dont like (be that a
> > Tivo, a landmine or an abortion instrument) but that does not change the
> > fundamental fact: it's outside the _moral scope_ of our power.
> Where is the boundary between hard- and software? [...]

this is largely irrelevant to my argument: the FSF is clearly trying to
extend the scope of the GPL to restrict the distribution of certain
hardware+software combinations. The FSF is not really arguing that the
boundary between software and hardware is diffuse. (which btw. it
clearly is) The FSF simply wants to be able to say via the GPLv3: "to be
able to distribute GPL-ed software, the hardware is required to do this
and this".

please note an important thing here: "required to do this and this" is
the _precise antithesis_ of "freedom". The only significant restriction
on freedom the GPLv2 allows is that the covered work (the software) is
not to be restricted. And that is a fair deal. Even if any additional
restrictions would otherwise be for the "common good" and would further
"freedom" in creative ways.

If the FSF's argument and approach was correct then it would be fine to
add these restrictions to GPLv4:

- do not distribute non-GPL-compatible software with GPL software on
the same hardware.

- send at least 10 free samples of the hardware to the FSF
headquarters. (after all true freedom is only achieved if developers
are not only allowed to modify the hardware, but are allowed to test
it as well, for the freedom of the community.)

- donate $10 to the FSF.

- spray "Linus sucks because he stole RMS's GNU thunder in the 90s and
never gave it back!" graffiti on 3 separate walls in your

Each of these items is an additional restriction on either the
hardware+software combination that is being distributed or on the person
who does the distribution, and each of these items - some abstractly,
some more directly - advance a notion of the "four GNU freedoms" in some
way. And each of these items has a basis in copyright law and might be
legally put into a license and might be enforceable. (ok, probably not
the last item ;)

think about it, the list of things that one can do via license to
"achieve more freedom" just doesnt stop! My point is: it has to stop at
the only boundary that makes sense, and which boundary is clearly
spelled out in the spirit and in the letter of the GPLv2: "our work is
our work, your work is your work".

Any additional restriction to "help achieve more freedom" just puts us
into divisive political and moralistic games that will only fracture us,
that will eventually erode the value of our software and hence makes any
'power' we have over that software meaningless in the real world. In the
end no-one but the Microsofts of this world will win.

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